AADHAAR is the brand name for the Unique ID scheme, the ambitious project by the Government of India to have a database of all residents of India. The central database will be maintained by the Unique IDentity Authority of India (UIDAI), headed by Mr. Nandan Nilekani.
Why do I need another identity card?
AADHAAR is not a card, it is only a 12-digit number.
But I see photographs of cards with Unique ID (AADHAAR)?
AADHAAR is a number. But implementing agencies (including state governments) can provide their own cards with an AADHAAR number.
What makes this different?
Every AADHAAR number is identified with name of a person and also his biometric (photograph, fingerprints of all ten fingers and iris scan) and demographic (gender, date of birth, parents’ name, address) information.
What is iris scan?
The iris is a structure inside our eye. Like our fingerprints, there is a pattern in this iris, which can be captured by a high-resolution camera. Iris pattern of each individual is even more unique than the fingerprints.
How does it help?
Every time a new member is added to the central database, it checks the new data with all existing data. Only if the new bioemetric data is unique is the new member added and a new random number generated for him. This ensures that each person has only one AADHAAR associated with him.
Should I compulsorily enroll?
AADHAAR is purely optional. But governments/agencies can insist on it for availing its schemes. For example, once AADHAAR is implemented across the country, PAN and passports might require an AADHAAR to be associated with it. So, unless you have an AADHAAR, you may not be able to file your taxes, or renew your passport.
Opening a new bank account or applying for a new mobile connection will not be possible without AADHAAR. Even ration cards and gas connections will require AADHAAR.
Isn’t this bothersome?
No, on the contrary, it should make your life easier. You will no longer need to have address proofs, identity proofs, age proofs etc. You just give your AADHAAR number to your service provider, who will verify what they need from your AADHAAR number.
How will they verify?
Depends on what they need to verify. If they need to verify your address only, they will check the address you provided with the address associated with the AADHAAR in the central database. If they match, you are ‘approved’. A bank may, for higher security items like loans, scan your fingerprints and compare it. For even higher security, like a job in ISRO, ISRO may compare your iris scan with the central database.
Won’t my privacy be lost to the service provider when they get my data from the central database?
No. Service provider will say, photograph you, and along with the AADHAAR number provided by you, upload to UIDAI, who will provide only a Yes/No answer to the service provider, depending on whether this AADHAAR-photograph combination matches the one in the central database. None of your details will be provided. UIDAI will charge your service provider a small amount (Rs.5 to 20) for this. You will not have to pay anything.
How should I enroll?
Government of Kerala has already signed an MoU with UIDAI. You will need to enroll as you did for VoterID card. All the details will be published in all local newspapers.